Let's Chat: Surviving a Sleepover With Diabetes

Saturday, October 4, 2014
I am sitting here alone in the dark in the wee hours of the morning. It's been a long time since I've
been awake this early. Many people like this time of the day, but on this particular day, the house is eerily quiet and dark.

I spent most of the night tossing and turning, constantly distracted. You see, last night was my daughter's very first sleep over since having been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes last February. Since her diagnosis, we haven't spent one night apart. I haven't been ready to relinquish control, and she hasn't been ready to take on the responsibility of managing her diabetes, even if for only a 15 hour period.

Diabetes doesn't take a break for sleepovers or for playdates. It's one of the most difficult chronic medical conditions to manage. And when you are asking an 8 year old to assume full responsibility of her diabetes management while you are apart is a slippery slope. Pizza, snacks, cake, candy, cookies...oh, the possibilities.

I had visions in my head of what could happen, and they weren't of sugarplums dancing. While I conjured up all the worst scenarios, she was eagerly anticipating her first sleepover in almost a year. We had a long chat an hour before I was to drop her off. We discussed the "rules", the best practices for parties. All this party protocol has become old hat to us. We've been through it so many times in almost 8 months that we no longer need books for finding carb counts or calculators to compute insulin dosages. But this time was different. I wouldn't be there to help her.

I took a deep breath and dropped her off. I couldn't get the image of a mama bird pushing her baby bird out of the nest for its first flight. Off she went.

I spent the next few hours staring at the clock, watching the seconds tick by. Finally at midnight, she called to tell me that she was going to sleep. She'd give herself her long-acting insulin shot for the night, and she'd call me in the morning.

Now the real worrying began. The nights can be brutal when you are the parent of a type 1 diabetic. If their blood sugar drops to an unsafe level, they aren't awake to recognize the symptoms and recover quickly from low blood sugar. I frequently check her blood sugar randomly during her sleeping hours. At sleepovers that is not a possibility.

At bedtime her blood sugar was 239. Although she was well above her target of 150, she was not at an unsafe high. I felt that her blood sugar would be OK over night. It wouldn't fall into an unsafe low, causing her to pass out.

I tried to sleep. I did manage a few restless hours. I was anxious for this morning to come. And now. Here I sit playing the waiting game. Waiting for her to wake up. Waiting for her to call me.

Waiting for her to come home and tell me about all the fun she had at her first sleep over since becoming a type 1 diabetic.

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